Rhino sculptures to make a statement in New York
Wentworth CourierRhino sculptures to make a statement in New YorkBen Graham, Wentworth CourierMay 24, 2017 9:42am
CRITICALLY endangered rhinos have inspired world-famous Centennial Park artists to create a huge statue in the heart of New York City.
There are only three Northern White Rhinos left and Gillie and Marc Schattner aim to make sure their plight is not in vain by collecting one million signatures to ban the horn trade in China and Vietnam.
They say their creation, called The Last Three, will be the biggest rhino sculpture in the world.
The husband-and-wife sculptors were heartbroken after seeing the last remaining rhinos Sudan, Najin and Fatu seven weeks ago. The trio is kept under intense security at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Northern Kenya.
Sudan is 43 with a low sperm count and his daughter and granddaughter Najin and Fatu are infertile — meaning the entire species will be extinct imminently.
The pair are now trying to secure funding to recreate the final three survivors as a six-meter tall bronze sculpture made up of life-size rhinos in Astor Pl, Manhattan. They hope it will be unveiled early next year.
“Seeing the rhinos is most emotional thing I’ve dealt with in my life,” said Mrs Schattner. “When you have a quiet moment with one of these magnificent, four-tonne animals and you know they are one of the last left it’s overwhelming. We both started crying.”
“You just think about these animals which have been on the planet for 40,000 years and now they have been driven to extinction by humans,” said Mr Schattner. “You can go right up, tickle and hug them. They are the most gentle rhinos which is one of the reasons they have been so badly affected by poaching.”
The couple have been creating public sculptures around the world for over a decade and their trademark dog and rabbit pieces have also appeared at Sculpture by the Sea.
There are even plans to build The Last Three sculptures in major cities across the world to spread the message, with the pair eyeing up Sydney and Shanghai as potential sites after The Big Apple.
“We wanted to make it a big sculpture so it is something that people can’t ignore any more,” said Mrs Schattner.
They hope to collect of one million ‘Goodbye Rhino’ messages through the statues which will be used to petition to ban the use of rhino horn — helping reduce the value of the product.
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Gillie and Marc have put $150,000 of their own cash into the project and are aiming to $50,000 more. More than $14,000 has already been donated.